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Apple News hits 90 million readers as rumored subscription service nears

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Photo: James Bareham / The Verge

Apple News has reached 90 million regular readers, three years after the app launched on iPhones and iPads. The stat comes out of a story this morning in The New York Times, which got to go behind the scenes with the Apple News team to see how it works. The Times also furthers reports that Apple is close to launching a subscription service inside the app.

There are already rumors that Apple plans to turn its News app into a bigger venture, and the Times backs those up. Its story says that Apple plans to “bundle access to dozens of magazines” for a monthly fee, much like Netflix does for TV shows and movies. Newspapers could be included in the bundle, too.

That wouldn’t be a huge surprise. Apple bought a service called Texture earlier this year that offers a $10-per-month digital subscription to major magazines like The New Yorker and Time. Texture is still up and running, but it has nowhere near the reach of Apple News, which is built into every iPhone and iPad (and now every Mac, too).

Apple’s news subscription service will be launching “soon,” according to the Times. Bloomberg previously reported that it would launch next year.

As the Times story notes, publishers have mixed feelings on Apple’s involvement. While it could help them find new readers and subscribers, they’ve been burned by tech companies promising new audiences and income — like Facebook — in the past.

Aside from the app’s large reach, the big story in the Times piece is Apple’s embrace of human curation at a time when other tech companies are going in the other direction. For its curated “top stories” page in Apple News, the company relies on former journalists to vet and pick what’s displayed, offering them an opportunity to veto articles that look problematic or wrong. That said, other stories in the app are algorithmically selected, so it’s not clear that Apple is immune to the misinformation scandals that have plagued other services.